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Igbo HighLife Music in Nigeria: An Introspection


The Igbo highlife music is a genre carved out by the South-Eastern part of Nigeria as far back as 1950s which has since then been refined and spiced up with  Hip Hop, R&B, Dancehall and various other foreign genres, at times making it recognizable, other times putting its purity to the sword. It is easy to go back in history and single out Chief Stephen Osita Osadebe as the most influential and one of the pioneers of Igbo highlife genre with his popular song “Osondi Owendi”



Since then, the likes of Flavour N’abania as he is popularly called, J Martins, Bracket, Phyno, P Square and other Igbo musicians have all made themselves more popular and resourceful with this choice of genre which has posed as a source of identity for musicians who hail from the Igbo community.

These musicians  have successfully mixed Igbo Highlife with other genre of music and a good case in point is Flavour N’abania who chose to blend it with R&B and Pop which can be seen in his latest hit single “Baby Na Yoka”.



In 2005, Flavour N’abania made his mark with the Igbo highlife genre in Nigeria in a song titled N’abania, featuring Mr. Raw which was immediately followed by his studio album Uplifted with the hit track “Ashawo (Remix)”



The Nigerian duo P Square currently released a new single titled “Nobody Ugly”; an Igbo Highlife tune which is a rare choice in their style of music. The latest single from them once again points to the fact that musicians from the east are going back to their roots.



One of  Nigeria’s South-East musicians that has transformed the Igbo Highlife music into an acceptable tune in the country in recent years is J-martins which could be heard in his hit single “Good Tym” featuring Cabo Snoop, an international act from Angola.



Since the year 2000 till now, the Igbo highlife genre has been receiving a steady flow of attention, from new acts like Humblesmith with his smash hit, ‘Osinachi’ to stalwarts like Flavour N’abania. It is also welcome to recognize those pure highlife musicians who would never be mainstream but whose music dances into our ears at Igbo naming ceremonies or when one wants to buy bootleg cds.